Just in time for sunrise
On Saturday, September 5th, we woke up at 2 30 am in Baxter State Park to a clear, starry sky and a full moon. We packed up our gear and were headed up the trail by 3 15 am. A sign at the trail head said to plan for at least 7 - 10 hour round trip to the summit and back. We had 5.2 miles standing between us and completing the 2178.3 mile journey. The first couple of miles were below treeline and relatively easy. After an hour of hiking we were exposed, above treeline. The moon was like a spotlight reflecting against the mountain and the hundreds of lakes below. We turned off our headlamps and began the steep, hand over hand climb up to the 'gateway', the edge of the mountaintop plateau.
Finished the Appalachian Trail
After 30 minutes of reaching the timberline we were at The Gateway. Two more miles to go and less than an hour before sunrise. We rushed across the rocky plateau and up to the final ridge then we saw it, the infamous Katahdin summit sign silhouetted by a bright red sky. It was now 5 45 am, 12 minutes until sunrise, and we had reached the summit. The moon was sinking behind us into a shadowed valley. Cameras were out and beers in hand.
The magnitude of this trip and the fact that the trip is over has not sunk in. Maybe it never will but that's not important. What is important is that I finished the Trail and the experience will stay with me forever.
|Appalachian Treadway 5|